Eerie Short Story

Fiction on Odyssey: Foggy Park

The trip to a foggy park takes a strange turn

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Have you ever felt watched on foggy days? Have you ever thought something terrible lurked in the mist, waiting to catch you off-guard? Fog muffles sound, obscures sight, turns the world as we know into something unfamiliar and alien. Some of our worst nightmares can be made manifest and can stalk us without our knowledge.

Foggy Park

Jesus, it's cold! I remember thinking when I first stepped from the house. The little gray terrier beside me paid the biting chill no mind. He snuffled at the naked, bristling stalks of his favorite bush and promptly marked his turf, panting happily. Probably should've brought gloves, I thought grudgingly, warming my hands with my breath. I tugged on the terrier's leash and began to walk.

The fog in the apartment lot was pressing and thick, and it swarmed about me in a whirling haze of white. The grass crunched beneath my feet, while mud squelched and sucked at my boots. Charlie and I followed an old sidewalk, me trying to keep my breath from fogging my glasses, Charlie roaming around for the next engaging scent. The street beside the sidewalk was ominously quiet; the fog masked the approach of any car that might be turning along the roadway.

I called Charlie close, and together we turned from the old path to head into the park. I could hardly see the parking lot, with all the mist. It made me nervous at first; ironically, I hated sharing the park, and I couldn't tell whether anyone had intruded on my favorite place. Thankfully, the lot was empty, as I gradually began to make it out. We entered the park, and I stopped and listened. Charlie's collar twinkled strangely in the muffling fog as he ranged on ahead. I let him go, knowing he wouldn't wander too far. The wall of mist swallowed up his little gray frame, and I was left alone.

It was deathly quiet; everything was still. The fog smelled rank and alien, too sweet to be rain-smell, and airy enough to make my head ache and spin. I pulled up my scarf, preferring my own morning breath rather than suffer the fog's scent any longer. I trudged on, calling for Charlie. My voice reflected back at me, hollow. I didn't hear his collar twinkling in response. With an annoyed sigh, I set off to find him.

Dog-smell, faint, big. The terrier wrinkled his nose at the gnarly base of a tree, the fur along his shoulders bristling as he scented the marking of another dog. Defiantly, he placed his own marker and dusted the tree roots with a helping of damp earth and slimy, wet leaves. Satisfied, he continued with his circumspection of the park grounds, glad to be free of the leash.

He wandered across the field, the wet grass tracing his fur with glistening stripes. His paws and belly were already soaked, and he was beginning to feel the cold. Vaguely, he wondered where GIRL had gone. Charlie thought he'd heard her call, but after nosing around the trees and grass, he'd surely have forgotten if she had.

GIRL will call again, no yelling yet. Charlie couldn't see far in the fog, but he sensed her blundering about in the park. On little, pattering feet, the terrier followed the smell of the lake. The trail down to it was steep, slick, and muddy, and he hated the feel of the goop on his legs, but he didn't stop. Charlie liked the lake. He could walk right up to it and listen to the waves slosh against the banks, frothing and choked with twigs and branches.

As he came upon the shore, the familiar swooshing and lapping filled his ears. On a warm summer day, Charlie recalled, he could see the sun striking off the lake's surface in a blinding sheen of light, and could smell the enticing scent trails left by animals who would come for a quick drink.

Winter was upon them now; all he could smell presently was the rancid mud and fog. Beyond the shore, the lake was obscured by a dense curtain of mist. The water was a deep gray, the waves white-capped. Droplets sprayed his fur, and he shivered. Perhaps the excursion to the lake hadn't been an especially great idea. Charlie was turning to search for GIRL when a curious humming froze him midstep. It sang deep in his stomach and ears, setting his body trembling. He swung back to the water and scanned the desolate shoreline of mud and litter and pebbles.

The humming turned into a drone, a dark and powerful sound that Charlie felt more than heard. It was in his bones, his nose, his mind. It called to him, out from within the water. He shrank, powerless, against the cold mud, the urine running out of him. Fear turned his blood to ice. The slopping rhythm of the water suddenly changed. Interspersed with it was the slow and steady sound of something pushing through the waves. The water parted, the hum roaring louder. Charlie couldn't move.

The shape that appeared from the fog was far larger than him, but he couldn't yet make out any distinctive features. Suddenly, a deathly pale foot emerged, stark against the brown mud. Blue veins bulged against the white flesh, and the foot itself boasted long, black claws. Charlie watched motionlessly, horrified yet captivated. Looks like…a paw, like own feet. The water churned as the second paw became visible, sporting equally blue veins and frightening claws.

The creature dragged itself forward, and Charlie managed to make out a strange, hostile face. In a vague, instinctive sense, Charlie recognized that it was a being that somehow resembled himself. The muzzle was blunt, the ears long and wide, and there was the tiniest mole on its cheek, just below the upper jaw. But there was nothing similar about the vicious yellow eyes, the bared teeth, nor the pale, veined skin. Along its spine rose tall, hideous white spikes, bristling to full extent. It was so grotesquely gaunt that Charlie could clearly see where they sprung from the spine itself. Its shoulders were hunched unnaturally, making the spikes appear even taller, and its legs, as the beast cleared the water and reached the shore, were oddly short and stunted.

Under different circumstances, its appalling appearance might almost be comical, but Charlie felt no humor in observing it. The creature stalked up the shore to him with a menacing certainty, water running smoothly from its hairless hide. Charlie suddenly realized the humming had stopped; somehow, the silence seemed even more threatening. The creature loomed over the little terrier impassively, its round yellow eyes glowing through the fog. The bristling spikes relaxed some, almost flattening against its spine. Charlie could hear its teeth clicking.

"Charlie!"

That was GIRL, further up the slope that led to the lakeshore. The creature's head snapped up, and its pale lips peeled back to reveal razor-sharp fangs. A guttural hiss slipped between the long, gleaming teeth. Yet instead of attacking, it began backing away, receding into the blue-gray waves and thick wall of fog. Before it could turn away, its strange golden gaze found Charlie's eyes once more. One day soon, we will come, it whispered to him, wordlessly. Its bodiless voice rumbled deep within the little dog. One day, we all will come. And it left.

Charlie was still standing there, petrified, on the cold bank when GIRL arrived behind him, bringing with her an angry yet relieved air of annoyance. He felt her clip the leash back onto him, but he didn't take his eyes from the heaving lake until he was wrenched away with an impatient tug. On numb paws, Charlie followed his master home.

He knew for a certainty that he would never visit that lake again.

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On June 22nd I Celebrated My 22nd

*Insert cliche Taylor Swift song "22"*

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It's about time I turn 22. I've been told that after your 21st birthday, the years begin to fly past you in a blur. I don't know if I agree, but I can definitely say that I don't feel 22. Sometimes I look around at all the people who are freshmen in college, or juniors in high school, and I begin to reminisce about when I was their age. One thing getting older does do is make you a skeptical, cynical person.

I've thought a lot about my birthday as another day that I get to eat cake because let's face it, I'm not really here for anything else, except maybe a shot. I remember celebrating my birthday when I was younger was much different from what it turned into after I turned 20. Back in the day, I would celebrate my birthday with a pool party. Pizza, chips, cake, and soda. A few balloons and candles and that was it. I'd only invite my closest friends and we'd have so much fun.

I miss that kind of birthday. The kind you pick out an outfit for days prior, the kind you get so excited for and can't sleep, the kind that makes you feel special. It doesn't feel like that anymore. What it feels like now is, "welp, there goes another year." This line is also applicable to New Year's Eve, but we'll cross that bridge six months from now.

My birthday is pretty uneventful. It feels like the spark is gone, the excitement is gone. I wish I could feel happy that I'm turning 22, but I also know that it's just a reality that we all get older and things like birthdays begin to feel strange. You're faced to realize that you're supposed to have gained another year of experience and intelligence in the aspects of life, but it's almost like you feel the same.

It's safe to say that this has been a bit of an existential-crisis-themed birthday, but I'm just a little scared of getting older. I think we all reach a point where you realize you aren't invincible anymore. It's time to see what's in store for the future, what your career goals are, where you plan to move to after graduation, how to eat better, and how to feel like you've reached your full potential. It's a bittersweet moment in my life, but I'm ready to see what's next.

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10 Netflix Recommendations

Here are some things to watch this summer that you may have never considered — in no particular order.

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I'm by no means a Netflix expert, but I believe I have some semblance of taste. I often find myself looking for undiscovered gems on Netflix, but they're kind of hard to find for a couple of reasons: 1) People are kinda bad at recommending things. Any list that recommends "Black Mirror" or "Bird Box" as if you've never heard of it before loses all credibility. 2) Movies/shows that are clearly a cut above the other content on Netflix tend to rise to the top of the cultural conversation.

With that said, I will probably put somehting on this list that you feel has broken rule 1. Fine — I get it. I'm not re-recommending the wheel here. Here's a list of ten things I've seen on Netflix before that more people should watch too, in no particular order.

The Netflist

1. "Boyhood" (2014)

This movie took 12 years to make ... that is absolutely astonishing on its own. In my mind this movie lives up to its perfect 100 Metacritic Score. I can't recommend this personal yet epic film enough. Patricia Arquette & Ethan Hawke turn in two of the most grounded parental performances ever captured by cameras. This is potentially a top 10 movie ever made.

2. "Dark" (2017-Present)

Me trying to figure out where the hell Season 2 of this show is going.

If you like gritty-weird-conspiracy-murder shows then is this the show for you. Heads up, however, this show is best consumed in its native tongue, Deutsch. Just read the English subtitles like a sane person, please. Now is the time to catch up on this peach of a show before Season 2 drops at the end of June.

3. "The Spectacular Now" (2013)

This movie has been doing some serious legwork for Shaliene Woodley and Miles Teller in my mind for like the past 3 years. I seriously wish I liked more of their work the way I love "The Spectacular Now." If you haven't guessed by my previous writings, I'm a sap for love stories of all shapes and sizes. This movie is worth a watch for the Kyle Chandler/Brie LArson bit parts alone.

4. "Extras" (2005-2007)

What makes this show special isn't the ludicrous amount of famous people (unfortunately no Ludacris, though) that make cameos as the complete opposite versions of themselves, it is the constant cast. Gervais' comedy is a unique brand that isn't for everyone, but this is great. Give thanks to BBC that this HBO show is on Netflix.

5. "Love, Death & Robots" (2019)

It was *so* hard to choose a GIF for this show because of its nature. Essentially it's an animated anthology series with a wide variety of themes and art styles that is connected by the over-arching theme of losing a left hand -- I mean, technology. P.S. I will be making a ranking of this shows episodes at some point in the future.

6. "The Keepers" (2017)

This is for the True Crime genre fans out there. "The Keepers" also fills the niche of Church-Conspiracy a la "Spotlight", which is a favorite sub-genre of mine. Amazingly told and beautifully filmed, but be warned: this show could leave you a bit disappointed if you needa happy ending.

7. "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" (2008)

This is as tumblr as any article I've ever written has gotten.

Based on the novel with the same name, this indie Rom-Com never quite lives up to its potential, but it's a solid movie with Michael Cera — what more could one need? Oh you definitely needed more, how about a small Andy Samberg cameo? Thought so.

8. "The Innocent Man"  (2018)

Oddly enough, this True Crime Docuseries is based on a nonfiction book written by the incredibly prolific John Grisham. What sets this apart from other pulp in the genre are the chilling reenactments — some of the best I've ever seen. We're talking "The Jinx" level detail.

9. "All the President's Men" (1976)

How important I imagine I look when I write about Super Smash Bros.

Honestly it's ridiculous to have this classic, that is almost universally renowned as a masterpiece, appearing on this list. My reasoning is that there is a new generation of people on Netflix that I fear not only haven't seen it, but will never have any interest in this movie (or other classics, for that matter). This movie is a cultural landmark and as we go through a corrupt administration now, it's nice to see how they dealt with it in the 70s. Psst, journalists are heroes. Tell a friend.

10. "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" (2016)

Me and my girlfriend watched this a few nights ago. At least I think it was a few nights ago, I haven't slept since. Director Andre Øvredal is directing the upcoming "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" so prepare for that by watching some of his earlier work.

Follow Alejandro on Twitter and Instagram @AtSignAlejandro or @WhyNautsComedy for more content.

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